Jerry Richardson, the founder of the Carolina Panthers, died Wednesday night, the team announced. He was 86 years old.

«Jerry Richardson’s contributions to professional soccer in the Carolinas are historic,» current Panthers co-owners David and Nicole Tepper said in a statement. «With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave NFL fans a team of their own.

«He was incredibly kind to me when I bought the kit, and for that I am grateful. Nicole and I extend our deepest condolences to Rosalind, the entire Richardson family and their loved ones. We wish them much peace and comfort.»

Carolina received the 29th NFL franchise in 1993. The team would debut in 1995.

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